6 "Love Letters" to Ghana (Part 1)
Ghana’s independence day is looming and with 60 years in the bag as an independent nation, Ghanaians have a lot to smile about. To be clear, this isn't a retrospective through rose-tinted spectacles. So as we reflect on Ghana’s legacies, let us remember both the highs and the lows. While I can think of 26 highlights for every letter of the alphabet relating to Ghana - let’s look at the first 3 "love letters" to Ghana and the world at large.
1. "S is for Sankofa"
Adinkra symbols are said to have originated from Akan people in Cote d’Ivoire, however they have been used among the Akan (and other tribes in in Ghana) for hundreds of years. Sankofa is an Adinkra symbol that means “return and fetch it.” This symbol is often represented by a mother hen returning for her chick. It reminds us that it is never too late to go back for what is at risk of being lost. These symbols usually relate to aspects of nature or how people relate to one another. On one level they are beautiful, yet when we look deeper Adinkra symbols pinpoint the creativity and wisdom expressed in our clothing and architecture.
For me, sankofa has a particularly powerful message. It beckons us to address mistakes or decisions made in the past. Prior to colonisation, West Africans belonged to independent villages, city states and forest empires who competed for resources and bartered for protection. When we look at slavery, and the role Africans played in selling other Africans domestically and abroad, we must have an approach that allows us to deal with hard conversations relating to the past and how we deal with those legacies today.
In the spirit of sankofa, we can also address contemporary issues such as the challenges within our education systems, relationships with Western Europe, the Americas and China. It should form the bedrock of relationships between Africans and African diaspora, so no one is truly left behind.
2. "N is for Nkrumah"
While there are no heroes in politics, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president, was instrumental to the Pan-African movement and the wave of decolonisation that swept across sub-Saharan Africa in the late 50’s and onward. Heavily influenced by the civil rights movement in the US, he sits alongside greats such as Haile Selassie, Patrice Lumumba, and Julius Nyerere. These founding fathers of post -colonial Africa represent the side of us that looks to the future with a sense of hope and anticipation.
3. "F is for Fufu"
Forget the Jollof wars, fufu is where it’s at! Let's not to forget kelewele, tuo zaafi and waakye. The list goes on. When my brother, Ekow, wrote children’s book A is for Accra, it very nearly turned out to be a book about local cuisine - my mouth waters.
Food connects Ghanaians across ethnicity, culture and language. This food-love and the compulsive need to share it with our neighbours fills my heart and my stomach to the brim.
Dwell a moment on these expressions:
food-ian - a person who eats too much
chop time, no friend - it's lunch time and I'm not sharing
and now in contrast:
you are invited - As it clearly suggests " you are invited" is a courtesy extended to all, even perfect strangers over the tiniest morsels. While we can revel in the achievements of the Ghanaian patriarch, it's the informal encounters that carry real weight in our day-to-day interactions.
I'll be expanding these topics on my Instagram over the next few days leading up to the 6th of March 2018 - A letter every day until the 6th of March. On the 3rd of March, I'll pick my remaining 3 letters from A is for Accra.
Happy world book day!